University of Minnesota
Computer Science & Engineering
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Performance Evaluation of a Multi-Robot Search & Retrieval System: Experiences with MinDART

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rybski [at] (Paul E. Rybski)
larson [at] (Amy Larson)
harini [at] (Harini Veeraraghavan)
mlapoint [at] (Monica Lapoint)
gini [at] (Maria Gini)

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The costs of developing mobile robot teams can be reduced if they are designed to exploit swarm techniques. In this methodology many simple homogeneous units solve complex tasks through emergent behavior. The challenge lies in selecting an appropriate control strategy for the individual units. Complexity in design costs both money and time, therefore a control strategy should be just complex enough to perform the task successfully in a variety of environments, relative to some performance measure. To explore the effects of control strategies and environmental factors on performance, we have conducted two sets offoraging experiments using real robots (the {em Minnesota Distributed Autonomous Robotic Team}). The first set of experiments tested the efficacy of localization capabilities, in addition to the effects of team size and target distribution. The second set tested the efficacyof communication. We found that more complex control strategies do not necessarily improve task completion times, however they can reduce variance in performance measures. This can be valuable information for designers who need to assess the potential costs and benefits of increased complexity in design.

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